'The Good Mother': Mothering, Feminism, and Incarceration

Deseriee A. Kennedy

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center


18 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L.161 (2012)
Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 14-4

As the rates of incarceration continue to rise, women are increasingly subject to draconian criminal justice and child welfare policies that frequently result in the loss of their parental rights. The intersection of an increasingly carceral state and federally imposed timelines for achieving permanency for children in state care has had a negative effect on women, their children, and their communities. Women, and their ability to parent, are more adversely affected by the intersection of these gender-neutral provisions because they are more likely than men to be the primary caretaker of their children. In addition, incarcerated women have higher rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, and childhood and domestic abuse that make it more difficult for them to comply with federal and state standards for retaining their parental rights. Incarcerated mothers must also struggle against stereotypes of mothers and effective mothering which may be at play in parental termination decisions. This article suggests that feminists need to look more closely at these issues and proposes changes to arrest, sentencing, and parental rights hearings that would help incarcerated women maintain their connection with their children and preserve their parental rights. The article suggests a community-based approach to caring for the children of incarcerated women that would help empower women and their communities.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: incarceration, mother, parental rights, criminal justice, parental termination, child welfare, critical race, feminism

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: November 25, 2013 ; Last revised: February 7, 2014

Suggested Citation

Kennedy, Deseriee A., 'The Good Mother': Mothering, Feminism, and Incarceration (2012). 18 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L.161 (2012); Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 14-4. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2359603

Contact Information

Deseriee A. Kennedy (Contact Author)
Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )
225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 469
Downloads: 54
Download Rank: 285,104

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 0.235 seconds